Creating A Retail Paradise

Creating A Retail Paradise

I saw a quote in early 2015 that I thought was brilliant…it was by Michael Dooley and it said “Create a paradise where employees want to stay. Not just visit.” Yesterday, I was having a great video chat with a colleague and referenced this quote and we had an amazing conversation about Employee Retention and how to re-up/re-purpose budgets that have been spent on turnover and hiring and infuse those funds into “creating a paradise” for our employees to want to stay at (and, honestly, for myself as well).


For the past 15 months or so I have been working to improve and measure results/impact of workplace culture developments and note the specific actions we have taken that have produced the greatest results in the business. Not just on the selling end  or the overall P&L of each location, department, and the aggregate – but on the people side. Really understanding the side that determines our true success; our happiness with our work families, our development opportunities and the collaborative environment we support.

Now that we have, for all intents and purposes, closed out our fiscal year I am able to measure the impact that it had and the actions that directly effected the working environment [both positively and poorly]. Here are the things that I can confirm worked to “create a paradise” for our team:

Hiring Practices
Here were our EOY 2014 commitments:
-Be selective to the extreme
-Hire for cultural fit – values & vision
-Hire candidates based on their desired growth plan
-Keep a two week time-to-fill standard
So – what that meant is that we had to create a training plan for all of our Store and Corporate teams that reviewed and answered any and all questions around our Company Mission and Values, explained and trained “Social Recruiting”, and supported strong recruiting practices by all team members as brand ambassadors. We also updated our Employee Referral program to be compelling and of value to our employees. [And for our top performers the Employee Referral program was even more compelling. You know those employees you wish you could have ten of? Create a really amazing Employee Referral Program for them, specifically…and you CAN!!].

The EOY 2015 results:
-Employee Satisfaction with co-workers and workplace culture improved 12% ad 8%, respectively
-Time-to-Fill was decreased to 11 days
-Employee absenteeism decreased by 8%
-Employee turnover was 27% for the fiscal year for store teams

We Focused On Our Employees
The team gave us feedback that we were focused too much on pushing them to deliver metrics without a full understanding of what those metrics meant to the business; why they were important; how they fit into the big picture. They wanted purpose. They wanted to be a part of the business. They were 100% right.

We updated our training initiatives and our LMS to be compatible to the multiple styles of learning on our team. We transitioned our business to Stay Interviews and held all leaders accountable for delivering performance guidance through candor, and recognition – proactively and consistently. We showed that we were valuing everyone’s time through updating our meeting practices by ensuring they were necessary and achieved a purpose/resolution. We celebrated success and built in time and events for work relationships to thrive, and our culture to become one that encouraged teamwork, collaboration, productive partnerships throughout all levels and departments. We encouraged cross-department learning and allocated time and budgeting for that. Our employees also wanted  in addition to recruiting, to be ambassadors for the brand as it related to supporting the company through Social Media. We created a structured Employee Advocacy Program for the team that delivered tremendous results and reach.

Employee Benefits
We were very fortunate to have an incredible diverse staff that had a lot of great contacts to maximize the offering of a virtual catalog of really great employee benefits [in addition to the usual ones]…all we had to do was ask. The following programs were the most well received and appreciated:
-Juicing Bar
-Fruit & Veggie Cart
-Healthy snacks only vending machine
-Unanticipated day care needs/School holiday & half-day day-care [in house] or provided through partnerships to those in stores
-Flexible work schedules for top performers [this had the biggest impact on productivity]
-2-hour lunch one Friday per month with catered lunch service in the office
-Weekly 60-minute Monday morning continental breakfast/social hour to start the week off right
-Monthly “Formal Friday” cocktail hours were hosted at local establishments
-Quarterly events for team and a plus one during office hours, outside of the office
-Local partnerships for deep discounts on beauty/personal aesthetic services for employees and their families
-Gym/Yoga/Pilates/Spinning classes and memberships at a deep discounts

Company Mission/Values Based Culture Aligned with Recognition
We implemented a formal peer-to-peer recognition program using a platform designed for this function. It tied in our values and company vision to the every day activities and contributions of the team – as seen by their peers. It was a real time program that produced amazing results. This program was aligned with what the employees asked for as it related to how they fit in with the company’s vision. They understood their role and the impact they had on the business as a whole and in their area of responsibility. It also helped to keep our mission statement top of mind, daily. As I mentioned in a previous post – we also created the Wall of Kindness so that people could see how much they contribute in a positive way and show how their coworkers do the same which created a “pay it forward” atmosphere in the business through support and partnerships internally.

Did we create a Retail Paradise in 2015? We achieved an amazing workplace and a culture that was the most supportive and collaborative [with the fewest number of conflicts] most of us had ever worked in – but there is still room for improvement through re-evaluating and re-inventing other programs/processes that our team is asking for. But these four components were a huge step in the right direction (and again, we covered most of the costs of these programs/additions to our business through the impact had on retention and social recruiting). The best part overall was that we saw significant increase in sales, profit, customer experience, productivity, retention, self-directed learning,  and engagement.

I would love for readers to share some of the ways their retail organizations make work a paradise, so please comment below so that we can learn from other retailers best practices (and make sure you share who you work/or worked for – they deserve a shout out if they are doing things differently to make for a better workplace).


Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail and 18 year retailer. I am a passionate and creative leader and coach committed to inspiring thought, action, truth-telling, solution-seeking, and dialog about how to maximize talent through identifying and creating a process around critical success factors, workplace culture, signature leadership practices, productivity, profitability, alignment of employees and company vision & values, and workplace happiness inside all retail organizations. I help create healthy, vibrant, high-performing, and highly-productive organizations that are talent magnets and focused on delivering the highest level of customer experience that will differentiate them from competition and result in long-term growth and sustainability.

View all posts by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *